National Guard Steps in To Assist OC Homeless

The National Guard has been asked to keep two winter shelters open longer so the OC Homeless population doesn’t go up several hundred more. Supervisor Shawn Nelson says it’ll cost the county around 700 thousand dollars to keep several hundred National Guard homeless beds open for another three months.

"The challenge is short term, we need temporary housing." 

Nelson says the 90-day extension makes it so the problem did not get worse. 

"It keeps the people that have historically used the armory from falling in onto our other services while we're using them for, you know again, these other populations - the riverbed etc." 

Nelson says that several national guard armories in Southern California have been offering a winter night stay for decades, but if the temporary shelters had closed on time, hundreds more would have been dumped on the streets. 

"Unless it's military veterans or battered women, there are some categories that seem to be acceptable by communities, but when you just get to general homelessness, then no one wants them and that remains our challenge."

He says the county has almost $200 million to convert motels and build new buildings and such, but it will take a few years. 

"They're very cost-effective, low-level entry shelter, but because they have a National Guard element - the people all have to be out every day."

Nelson says the county’s biggest challenge remains temporary housing. The county is not looking to place other homeless populations from around the county into the armories.

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